|City/Town: • Hot Springs|
|Location Class: • School|
|Year Built: • 1939 | Year Abandoned: • 2009|
|Status: • Demolished|
|Photojournalist: • Michael Schwarz|
The large sign, hand-written with a bold sweeping letter on white poster board, authoritatively proclaims:
Class Room Rules:
1. Everyone is to be in their assigned seat.
2. Everyone will speak only when called on by the teacher or aide.
3. Only do what you have permission to do.
4. Treat each person the way that you want them to treat you.
Not necessarily the rules that we all grew up with in school but then again, the old Summit School wasn’t necessarily always like most schools. Originally built as Greenwood in 1939 as a regular elementary school within the Hot Springs community, the school began losing attendance in the 1980s, it was finally closed in 1993, and it then sat abandoned. But not for very long, though.
It was reopened in 1994 at which time it became known as the Summit School – an educational facility for at-risk students that were unable to function well within the more traditional educational settings. These students, often suffering from behavioral-based problems, frequently found an environment better suited to their more problematic learning needs within the Summit School. And the school was very successful in its second life, too. The school was so successful in its special mission that, in 2009 a brand new, more modern facility was specifically constructed to house the growing facility.
And the old Greenwood Elementary School in Hot Springs sat empty, again. As is often the case with such buildings, it would cost too much to tear the school down and clear the land and nobody’s really clamoring for the property anyway, so the local school district is simply using the deserted building as storage. But only on the bottom floors.
All of the rooms on the top floor remain very much as they were left on that last day of school back in 2001. Student desks still sit in their special seating arrangements, all geared toward the most effective classroom management patterns. Posters still adorn many of the walls. Chalkboards and dry erase boards still contain their last messages rooted in those final days of learning. Teacher’s desks still rest in the corners of their classrooms that provided the best views of all of the students on a simultaneous basis. Piles of papers and manila folders full of even more papers remain stacked on those desks, perhaps representing that one last round of work that departing teachers opted to leave undone, resting securely in the knowledge that they would not be returning to it. Framed pictures continue to provide educationally themed decorations. Having been originally built in the 1930s, all of the classrooms have very tall and expansive windows geared toward allowing maximum illumination by the sunlight, but now the curtains over those majestic old windows remain closed to be opened no more. And hundreds of antiquated wooden seats, all arranged in a multi-tiered bleachers-style format, all stare emptily out over a spacious wooden gymnasium floor, it’s shiny luster gradually losing its battle with the years that are no assaulting it.
And the outside of the building? The outside of the building looks just like an image pulled out of time and the passing reminder of another day. The old facility’s archaic red brick facades, tall square chimney, high reaching banks of windows, all lend themselves to a much earlier day. Those were far simpler times.
Update 2020: Unfortunately, this building has now been demolished. There was an amazing effort to save it, however, it met the wrecking ball in November.